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The European Convention Fifty Years On

Speaker: Professor Brian Simpson, Professor of Law, University of Michigan Law School
Chair: Professor Conor Gearty, Centre for the Study of Human Rights
October 2003

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It is fifty years since the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms came into force. With the end of the Cold War, the Convention seems to have gone from strength to strength, attracting many new member states and providing a rights-based structure for the development of a new Europe. But what is the true record of the Convention over its five decades of life? Do the rights that it sets out have relevance today? Is the Convention in need to revision? More generally, does the European Convention on Human Rights have a contribution to make to the global society in which we now live?

A W Brian Simpson earned an MA and a Doctorate of Civil Law from Oxford University. He was a fellow at Lincoln College, Oxford, and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the British Academy. He has held professorships at the University of Kent and at the University of Chicago. His publications include Human Rights and the End of Empire: Britain and the Genesis of the European Convention; A History of the Common Law of Contract; A Biographical Dictionary of the Common Law; Cannibalism and the Common Law; A History of the Land; Law, Legal Theory and Legal History; In the Highest Degree Odious: Detention Without Trial in Wartime Britain; and Leading Cases in the Common Law. Professor Simpson regularly teaches a course relating to human rights. He is the Charles F and Edith J Clyne Professor of Law.